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Foreword

Foreword

The mobile phone and portable device handset are currently undergoing a transformation caused by several different factors. For one, portable devices are getting more powerful and capable of performing tasks that would have been hard to imagine a few short years ago. Many of us carry a portable device that is capable of everything from using the World Wide Web to watching movies to playing 3D games--and it can even make phone calls! For another, consumers are becoming more savvy and demanding about what they want such a device to do. A third part of the convergence is that portable devices now form a bigger market for software and applications developers than larger computing platforms, and delivery of applications to those devices is often easier and more streamlined than to larger ones.

The next generation of phones already includes hardware graphics acceleration, wireless connectivity, data access plans, GPS, hardware expansion and connectivity, touch screens, and so on. Operating systems and applications are being written to take advantage of these new capabilities and the delivery of these applications is undergoing a quiet revolution by putting consumers in control of what their device will do, and connecting developers and consumers with a minimum of fuss and overhead. Consumers get the software they want, and developers get access to a potentially enormous market for their products.

Underlying this transformation is a trend toward more openness. Openness in the capabilities of the devices and how they can be harnessed, openness for the applications that can be developed and brought to market, openness in the collaboration among handset manufacturers, network carriers and software providers. Granted, there is still room for improvement, but I believe no next-generation mobile platform embodies this spirit of openness more than Android.

Android is an operating system born of an alliance of 30 organizations from across the mobile devices industry—hardware manufacturers, carriers, and software companies—committed to bringing a better mobile phone to market. The result is an operating system and application development environment capable of running on multiple devices, providing a consistent and feature rich environment for developers. The larger Android ecosystem will eventually include multiple handsets, myriad applications and components to harness or build on, and multiple distribution channels (including the already available Android marketplace).

Writing applications for Android is in some ways akin to enterprise- or container-based development. Instead of a view of the world where your application runs and at some point quits, Android provides a way for your application to integrate itself into the larger Android environment. This environment is based on Java tools and skills, shortening the learning curve and bringing the ease and security of development in a managed language. Android lets you run services in the background, and provides components and data services that can share or be shared with other applications.

In short, Android is a great environment for application developers and this book will help you take full advantage of it. The authors skillfully guide you—from the development tools, through the architecture, basic and advanced APIs—and on to advanced topics like native application development. Unlocking Android is a valuable and useful guide to developing your own applications for this new and exciting open platform.

DICK WALL, SOFTWARE ENGINEER, FORMER ANDROID ADVOCATE FOR GOOGLE, AND JAVA POSSE CO-HOST

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